Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wolfson Taking Big Steps; Young Wolfpack Surpasses Coach's Expectations

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wolfson Taking Big Steps; Young Wolfpack Surpasses Coach's Expectations

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT, The Times-Union

Winning the district championship was a pleasant surprise for Wolfson basketball coach Bruce Rosebrock. Now he's looking for a few more, and an unexpected trip to the state final four.

The Wolfpack will try to move one step closer to a state title when it hosts Fort Walton Beach tonight (at 7) in the Region 1-5A quarterfinals. Wolfson (17-10) earned the right to host one of the four regional games by beating White on Saturday for the District 2-5A championship.

Rosebrock, in his 12th season as Wolfson coach, had designated this season as a rebuilding year. He expected it to be tough to follow last season's 24-7 mark put up by a senior-laden squad. Only three players, all non-starters, returned this year. Jason Daniel is the only senior in the starting lineup.

When filling out his preseason questionnaire on the team, Rosebrock wrote the following: "This team is being built to make a run for the state title NEXT YEAR," referring to 2004-05.

But the young Wolfpack turned in two solid efforts in beating Englewood in the semifinals and walloping host White by 16 points in the title game. Now Rosebrock is making comparisons to the Kenny Walker-led 1997-98 Wolfson team.

"That was Kenny's sophomore season and we basically had an all-underclassmen starting group that year," Rosebrock said. "They had struggled with a bunch of losses during the regular season, but then jelled at tournament time and made it into regional play.

"The following year that group went to the regional finals and, the year after, they played for the state championship. That's what I'd like to see from this group."

Walker went on to play four seasons at Alabama and received his degree from the school. Two other players from that Wolfson team also played college ball -- Garrick Nicholson at Alabama A&M and Aaron Smith at Columbia Union in Maryland.

Rosebrock is looking for a repeat, physically and mentally, of Wolfson's performance against White.

"The kids followed the game plan almost to perfection, both offensively and defensively," Rosebrock said. "During the season their minds would wander in a game. But in these tournament games thus far, they've been focused.

"We'll have a lot of juniors and seniors next season. The experience of playing in the playoffs this year will really be beneficial to us a year from now."

Rosebrock is hoping for more scoring help to support Daniel and Lavoris Mobley, who had 26 and 24 points, respectively, against White. The rest of the team combined for just 22 points.

A victory tonight would allow the Wolfpack to host another game Tuesday, taking on the winner of Melbourne Eau Gallie and Longwood Lyman.

jeff.elliott@jacksonville.com (904) 359-4292

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